A national ID is a basic right. That is only true before you go to queue for it at the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) points. Everyone dreads the prospect of losing a national ID because the process of getting a replacement is a daunting task.
Paying bribes to the registration officials seems to be the only way to quicken the process. If you are poor, you have to wait in queue for months. Ugandans who have lost their IDs or whose names were captured wrongly are the most susceptible to demands for bribes.
John Malinga [not real name] was caught up in a similar situation when he lost his national ID after thugs snatched his wallet.
In attempt to get a replacement, he paid sh50,000 at the bank, as is required by NIRA. However when he went to the NIRA office in Naguru, one of the officers referred him to another colleague who said he could only help him if he paid a bribe of sh60,000. “I had hoped that the sh60000 would enable him get my NIN [National Identification Number] because I urgently needed it, but I was shocked that after picking the money, he did not help me,” Malinga recalls. He adds “so when I asked to refund the money, he said he had already spent it.
After counting his losses in Naguru, Malinga then moved to the Kololo head office expecting better service. He was stopped in his tracks when the officer he meet asked for sh70, 000 saying that would help him “move things faster”.
He eventually succeeded at getting his NIN after making the payment. While replacing a national ID costs sh50, 000, some citizens have had to pay more to some greedy officers.
Edith Nakigozi, a resident of Entebbe municipality, also said she paid sh20, 000 to a NIRA officer who she identified as Kato, who promised to work on her documents which she needed urgently. “When I approached Kato, he tossed me around and later confessed that the sh20, 000 was to help me jump the long on that day,” she said. Kato also reportedly told Nakigozi thst if she needed an ID urgently, she had to pat him 1m or else stop calling.
When she went to she went sub-county (Gombolola) Internal Security Officer (GISO), Saka Mukiibi, at Katabi, he reportedly asked 5,000 to sign he documents.
Today, a person’s biometrics are required for the national ID registration and banking services, among others. Over the past five years, sveral people have complained about the process of getting a national ID. This growing frustration is succinctly captured by rants on social media.
Forgery, bribery hit National ID Project
New Vision Investigative Journalist reports that it took few thousand shillings to aquire forged letters from security and LC officials to facilitate the process as advised by Rwandan who were tracked down having easily got national ID after paying a small bribe.
Annet Nalugo, a Rwandan national who has since acquired a national ID says a Local Council one chairman got her a ‘father’ after paying him shs6000. Nalugo explains that she had to change her Kinyarwanda name to a more acceptable name from Buganda to ease the process.
On March 8, 2014, during the International Women’s Day celebrations, when President Yoweri Museveni briefed the country about the ID project, he attempted to show the relevance of a national ID to ordinary citizens. He said it would finally give the country a reliable and easily traceable card that is also difficult to forge.
However, when NewVision team visited various sub-counties in both rural and urban centers, they discovered that it does not take much to be cleared for a national ID. Sources indicate many foreigners could have easily been added to the national ID register, provided they paired with some money. The magnitude of the matter was, however, witnessed in rura areas with NIRA officials paying little or no attention at all to personal details, hence causing many irregularities.